Study: Teens with social anxiety disorder try marijuana at an earlier age

Researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have shed new light on the connection between social anxiety disorder among teenagers and substance use, reports Medscape Medical News. They found that teens with social phobia started to use marijuana an average of 2.2 years earlier, at an average of 10.6 years old, than other teens who use drugs, but do not have social anxiety.

Principal investigator Alexandra Wang told Medscape Medical News: “This finding surprised us. It shows we need to start earlier with prevention of drug and alcohol use and treatment of social phobia.”

The study included 195 adolescents, ages 14 to 18, who had been diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder. The researchers assessed the participants for the following three anxiety disorders: social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and agoraphobia.

The most commonly used drug was marijuana, and those with panic or social anxiety disorder were significantly more likely to be dependent on the drug.

The research was presented on April 26 as a scientific poster at the American Society of Addiction Medicine 44th Annual Medical-Scientific Conference.